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Commands to Children About Parents
What does the Bible say about children? Lesson 2
When you were growing up, what rule did your parents have that you hated the most? Were you a rule follower, even when you didn’t agree with or like the rule? Or did you push every boundary you could? Did you obey your parents cheerfully? Or did you whine and complain the whole time?
In this lesson, we’ll take a look at the commands the Bible gives to children about their parents. These commands fall into two categories: attitudes and actions. We’ll look first at attitudes that children should have toward their parents, then progress into the actions.
Like the first lesson in this series, this lesson looks at a lot of different Bible passages, which could be overwhelming if you are doing this with children. Therefore, I have divided this into four days to keep it more manageable. Feel free to do the entire study at once or break it up based on your desired time and intensity.
Day 1: Attitude Toward Parents
Read the verses listed below. Consider what these passages are trying to say.
Exodus 20:12: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
Leviticus 19:3: “Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the Lord your God.”
Deuteronomy 5:16: “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
Matthew 19:19: “Honor your father and mother,” and “love your neighbor as yourself.”
After reading these verses, what does the Bible say about the attitude that children should have toward their parents?
Children should honor and respect their parents.
What does it mean to honor and respect someone?
When I looked up “honor” in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, the definition that jumped out at me was “one whose worth brings respect or fame.” When I looked up “respect,” it said “a feeling of admiring someone or something that is good, valuable, important, etc.”
So to honor and respect someone means to have a realization that the person is important and has worth.
What, then, does it mean for children to honor and respect their parents?
Children need to come to the understanding that their parents have value and are important because God has charged the parents with taking care of and providing for the children. So even when children don’t like the decision the parent makes, they need to have an attitude of respect for the decision.
How does this command apply to children who have parents who abuse or neglect them? What attitude can these children have toward their parents even in the midst of their parents not properly caring for them?
Day 2: Consequences of Not Honoring Parents
Read the following verses that talk about children who do not honor their parents.
Exodus 21:15, 17: “Anyone who attacks their father or mother is to be put to death. ... Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.”
Leviticus 20:9: “‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head.”
Proverbs 20:20: If someone curses their father or mother, their lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness.
Proverbs 30:17: “The eye that mocks a father, that scorns an aged mother, will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley, will be eaten by the vultures.”
In these verses, what are the consequences of not honoring and respecting parents?
Anyone who curses their father or mother will face death.
How do these verses apply to us today?
In Bible times, especially the Old Testament, blessings and curses held real weight. Just think about the blessing that Isaac gave Jacob rather than Esau (Genesis 27). Or Balak, king of Moab, asking Balaam to curse the Israelites (Numbers 22). In our day, we don’t often see blessings and curses being as serious or binding as in the Old Testament. However, even if that is true, these verses help us see how serious God is about children honoring and respecting their parents. If it was so serious in the Old Testament that God would command the person to be put to death because they disrespected their parents, then God still despises when children disrespect their parents today. This makes disrespecting parents a sin.
How do you think these verses should affect the attitude that you have toward your parents (yes, this still applies to adults!)? Do you have any attitudes that need to change? What are they?
Day 3: Actions of Children
Now let’s take a look at actions that children should take when their parents tell them to do something. Read the verses listed below. Consider what the passages are trying to say.
Proverbs 1:8-9: Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.
Proverbs 6:20-22: My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck. When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you.
Proverbs 13:1: A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not respond to rebukes.
Proverbs 23:22: Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.
Ephesians 6:1-3: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
Colossians 3:20: Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
How do these verses say that children should respond to their parents?
Children should listen to their parents’ instructions and obey their parents.
What is the assumption that goes along with these verses?
Based on the context of these verses, they assume that the parents are giving godly instructions and commands.
What do these verses say about why children should obey their parents?
Godly parents give instructions that bring guidance and wisdom. Obeying your parents is right and good in the Lord’s sight, and he rewards those who follow their parents’ instructions.
How might this apply differently to children who do not have godly parents? When might these children still need to follow the command to obey their parents, and when should they not?
Day 4: Jesus and His Parents
We don’t have many stories of Jesus as a child. But we do have the following story about Jesus interacting with his parents. Read Luke 2:41-52:
Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
How did Jesus respond to his parents?
He reminded them about his purpose for being on earth, even though they did not understand him. But ultimately, he was obedient to his parents.
What was the outcome of Jesus’ obedience?
He grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
Based on these verses, do you have any actions that you need to change when it comes to interacting with your parents (this can be for children and adults alike!)? If so, what are they? What should you do instead?
Pray that God would help you have an attitude of honor and respect toward your parents and that you would learn to obey your parents with a good attitude (especially if you are a child).
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